Welcome back for another evening of Niners Nation After Dark. The party's still kickin and we may have something to celebrate at least a little bit. Pro Football Talk is reporting that the NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to conduct seven straight days of discussions beginning Friday morning. This comes a day after the two sides agreed to invoke mediation with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. While a 2011 NFL Lockout could still happen in a couple weeks, the two sides are at least starting to make some of the right moves in public.
A lot of this may appear to be PR ploys as much as anything else. However, I'm willing to give this a little more consideration because this involves the bargaining table, and not just random PR stunts. The seven straight days of bargaining is obviously going to at least get the two sides talking. A deal can't be done if either side is pissed off and holding out from discussing a possible deal. I doubt a deal gets done in the next seven days, but at least it's some kind of effort.
The mediation service could prove valuable as well, even though the mediator can't force either side to do anything. I view this as a positive step forward (even if a small one) because a third party making recommendations and suggestions can at least get both sides thinking about things from new angles. If one or both sides isn't willing to make any concessions then a mediator that would certainly cause problems. However, a mediator could at least work with that side to get them thinking in terms of reconciliation rather than fighting.
All of this may lead to nothing, but at this point I'll take any sign of positive movement. At the end of the upcoming seven days of negotiations, we'll have about a week remaining before a lockout would begin. This upcoming week could prove crucial.